It was a meaningless rookie scrimmage in the middle of July, but George Allen looked back into history to put the Redskins' 41-14 victory over the Baltimore Colts today into perspective.
"You know," he said, "in 1972 (the Redskins' Super Bowl season) every early game we played in the preseason we scored a lot of points. It's an infectious thing. We had a good week of practice, and it paid off today. Now we've got to keep it going."
He spoke those words outside the locker room in the runway of Navy's football stadium to veteran quarterback Brian Dowling, the 30-year-old journeyman from Yale primarily responsible for the Redskins' overwhelming margin of victory.
Dowling, frighting Jesse Freitas for a back-up position, completed 12 of his 23 passes for 207 yards.He was not intercepted. His two second-half touchdowns increased a 17-14 lead to 34-14 early in the fourth quarter.
"Hell of a job," offensive coordinator Charley Waller told Dowling. "That's our kind of football."
Making the coaches aware he was still around. Freitas hit wide receiver Doug Winslow with a 34-yard touchdown pass in the final 10 minutes to complete the scoring.
A crowd of 17,502, including 1,300 Navy Plebes, waited patiently for the scrimmage to begin some 30 minutes late. The Redskins had more difficulty beating the traffic than they did the Colts.
The Redskins moved equally well on the ground and in the air against a Colt defense that included several front-line players from last year's Baltimore playoff team.
Rookie running back James Sykes, a 10th-round Redskin draft pick from Rice who had taken his lumps all week in practice, had 11 carries for 35 yards. He caught four passes for 63 more, including a 33-yard pass from Dowling in the fourth quarter.
"Every game I play in I've got to show these coaches something," Sykes said. "I made some mistakes. I have to learn to read my blocks better and I was too anxiousto get off the ball. I was in motion twice today, and I can't do that and make this team. But it's only the first week. I just have to go back now and work hard again."
The Redskins had many other impressive performances. Defensive end Dallas Hickman was often in the Baltimore backfield before handoffs were completed and knocked Colt quarterback Bill Troup silly on one tackle.
Gerard Williams was a terror at cornerback, breaking up three straight deep passes to kill a Colt drive in the third quarter. He also twisted his knee in the game but should be able to resume practice Monday.
Brian Fryer, who spent the second half of last season on the Redskins' injured-reserve list, had three catches for 53 yards. His 33-yard reception on the opening series set up Bob Berg's 29-yard field goal.
And Larry Jones, also trying to recover from an injury a year ago, had a 42-yard reception to set up the Redskins' first touchdown in the second quarter.
Berg, a free agent kicked a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter and was successful on all five extra-point conversions. There were no kickoffs in today's game-condition scrimmage, and he will have to become a boomer to beat out veteran Mark Moseley.
Another kick - this one a 47-yard punt by Merritt Kersey with a forever hangtime - helped the Redskins break the game open. Colt wide receiver James Caldwell fumbled the ball and it was recovered by David Thomas at the Colt 47.
Three plays later Sykes slipped out of the blackfield, snuck behind a Colt linebacker and broke two tackles after catching Dowling's pass at the 10 for a playbook-perfect 33-yard touchdown. It gave the Redskins a 27-14 lead.
Colt rookie back Glen Capriola fumbled two plays later and Karl Lorch recovered for the Redskins at the Colt 30. Six plays later. Dowling passed 16 yards to running back James Richards for another score four minutes into the final period.
Allen also cited a big fourth-and-one play by his defense. The Colts trailing 20-14, were on the Redskins' 16 in the series preceding Kersey's punt. Capriola got the call, but was nailed for no gain by rookie safety Mark Murphy, an early stickout in camp last week, and the Redskins took over on downs.
The Redskins returned to Carlisle after the scrimmage, and linebacker Pete Wysocki was probably laughing all the way home. "I pulled a Chris Hanburger on 'em," he said. "They lined up once and I started yelling and screaming. They jumped offsides and it hurt them."
The Redskins said they had contacted Mike Northington, the rookie running back who left camp Thursday. They expect him to return to Carlisle Monday . . . Tim Temerario, the Redskins' chief contract negotiator, said he would be "shocked" if any of the Redskins unsigned veterans do not report to camp by 6 p.m. Sunday . . . Offensive lineman Tim Stokes, however, will not be allowed to report unless he signs a contract. He played out his option in 1976 . . . Temerario met with Guy Draper, the agent for Mike Thomas and Frank Grant, after today's scrimmage, and said he expected both players to be in Carlisle. Draper said "we'll just have to wait and see."